By ZAC MILBANK
Central District midfielder Harry Grant has surged ahead in the last round to win the 2023 Magarey Medal, becoming just the seventh Bulldog to earn SANFL’s fairest and most brilliant individual award.
The resurgent ball magnet polled a total of 27 votes to edge in front of Norwood premiership rover Nik Rokahr on 24 and Sturt captain James Battersby on 23.
Holding on to a one-vote lead heading into the final minor round, Grant was forced to sweat as Rokahr polled two to initially join him on 24 votes.
But the 22-year-old received his fifth first preference in succession for his outstanding performance in Round 18, ensuring he would join fellow Central greats in John Platten, Gilbert McAdam and his coach, Paul Thomas, in winning a Magarey Medal.
Managing just five votes from the opening seven rounds, Grant steamrolled his way to victory on the back of eight first preferences as his prolific ball-winning captured the umpires’ attention.
Featuring in just seven League matches last year – chiefly due to persistent injuries – the former GWS Academy player has quickly forged a reputation as one of the competition’s leading midfielders in 2023.
Grant has also claimed honours in the 2023 R. O Shearman Medal as voted by SANFL coaches and the 2023 SANFL Now Player of the Year Award, adjudged by the commentators.
Averaging 26 disposals and seven clearances this year, the Bulldogs’ No.10 was a driving force behind his team’s return to the major round for the first time since 2017.
Originally from Canberra club Queanbeyan Tigers, Grant has now played a total of 45 Hostplus SANFL League games since making his debut in 2021.
It is Rokahr’s second successive second-placing after finishing runner-up to North Adelaide’s Aaron Young last year.
Battersby was followed by fellow Double Blues clearance-winner Tom Lewis on 21 votes while Glenelg game-breaker Matt Allen rounded out the top five on 20.
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